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tv   Political Capital With Al Hunt  Bloomberg  February 8, 2014 1:30pm-2:01pm EST

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>> this week on "political capital," jim jones talks about iran and afghanistan, we break down the jobs report, we preview the french coming to town, and margaret carlson and ramesh ponnuru with the last word. we begin the program with former white house national security adviser general jim jones. thank you for being with us. you are familiar with how difficult it is to deal with karzai and afghanistan. there is now a word that they will wait until after the april elections to sign a security agreement.
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is that smart? >> it may be the only thing we can do. if the u.s. is not going to be a part of it, i doubt many of the allies will do it either. there is every reason and there is no guarantee that he will. >> if we do postpone until after the april election, isn't there a chance that it will not create a clear cut winner, chaos will ensue, and make it even more complicated? >> it's not an encouraging situation either now or perhaps not out are the election. you have to go through the process. what worries me equally if we
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did get an agreement with karzai, we still have to work with the pakistani border and harboring criminals. it is still very much up in the air. >> there's a real chance that taliban and al qaeda could reemerge in his trunk or position? >> the taliban for sure. al qaeda has been pretty well dealt with when i left the white house and al qaeda was moving towards other parts of the world, down in yemen, across the red sea. it's very serious in the sense that all the things we hope to achieve may be put at risk.
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i go back to 2004 at my first trip to afghanistan and meeting president karzai. i had great hopes that he would lead his country in a new direction. the reforms needed, not just security, but societal, how to govern, rule of law, battling corruption, just changing the culture a little bit because i felt this was really what the afghans wanted but he's made it very difficult. >> let me turn this to iran. you warned about the dangers of a nuclear armed iran. what are your thoughts about secretary kerry negotiating in except the bull agreement with the iranians?
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>> i think that's going on right now is something that has to go on. it's a process. in 2009, we tried to reach out to the iranian government, as the president said he would in his inaugural address, to see if there was any hope for a construct of dialogue down there was not at the time. now, four or five years later sanctions really biting into the fabric of iran, for one reason or another, they now want to talk. i do not think you cannot take them up on that but we cannot want this more than they do. >> does it worry you? >> it needs to be said. secretary kerry is a very wise and and seasoned diplomat. secretary hagel and everyone else in the white house knows this. we should play a very
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constructive role. we should verify for sure and trust will be built over the years. we certainly need to be careful about how this transpires because the rest of the world is watching. the good news is i think if we have verification procedures, we should be clear about what it is that is expected if iran wants to rejoin the family of nations. >> do you think there is a better than even chance, less than even chance that we will get their? >> to quote the secretary of defense in munich, he would not use the word "optimistic," but he said "hopeful." i think we should have the dialogue and we should be clear about what we want to see happen. we have a lot of work to do on that score and particularly in the middle east. nothing will change radically in
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the six months in terms of them acquiring a nuclear weapons but to me, that's a fair amount of time to evaluate whether or not they are serious. >> several years ago, you said like qaddafi and hussein, it has not happened. do you think he is likely to be so because of failed u.s. policy? >> personally, i hope that he leaves because i don't see how we can live with a pariah in charge of a country and geo-strategically important as syria. >> it does not look very likely. >> it has not happened. again, in my personal, private opinion, we should continue to work to make sure it does happen. but it has not happened yet and
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i think it is unfortunate. collectively, internationally, we seem to be much more tolerant of this tragedy on a humanitarian scale. >> u.s. policy has not been sufficiently -- >> i think one of the points, had i still been in government, that i would have touched on would have been after the use of chemical weapons. that was a red line that he did cross. >> we should have acted. >> we are still not seeing him removed. he was supposed to be. there should have been a penalty for that. i don't necessarily mean boots on the ground, but we had a model back in 1991 in iraq where we really partition the country north and south with no-fly zone in the northern region where i was.
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we brought almost one million kurds out of the mountains and back in their homes without any threat from the iraq he army. i think if we had done something like that and we had led an international coalition for humanitarian reasons, we would not have had the pressures on our refugees that we had now. the loss of life in casualties on a grander scale than i thought we would have tolerated. >> general jim jones, thank you for being with us. when we return, the january jobs report and obamacare. the bloomberg reporters are next. ♪
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>> welcome back. the january jobs report saw a drop of unemployment to 6.6%. we bring in rich miller and margaret. that was a pretty weak report. >> on the whole, the economy is muddling along. rather than taking off. you probably have to look at it over the last three months. payrolls have gone up 154,000,
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slower -- >> on average? >> yes, on average. it's less than we've been getting, but it is not putrid. 6.6%, for once it fell for the right reason. >> you already saw signs of softness in the economy. >> this combined with a few things, auto sales were down. manufacturing says their business fell off a little bit in january and then you have this, within the stock market. >> is the stock market a harbinger of bad things to come? >> it has predicted nine out of the last nine recessions. look. let's not forget we were up big time last year. it's down a little bit. most people still look for the economy to get stronger as the year progresses but this is a weak start.
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>> we hit the debt ceiling on friday and emergency measures will be used the next few weeks. is this a potential economic cataclysm? >> if they don't raise it, but the noise coming from the republicans and john boehner is that they do not want to touch this. they seem to be caving as we speak. >> margaret, does the white house think it's a done deal? >> it's not done until it's done. the keystone provision is off the table now. this was part of the bargaining chips they insisted on last time around. >> they take care of retirees and while they are screaming about that -- >> there is a few weeks for this to still play out down there could be a test vote so they can get on the record. it may not be the stomach for
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another full flight. >> it would not be a rich miller session unless we talk about the federal reserve. chair yellen. what are you looking for? >> they are sanctioned looks like the kindly grandmother. i think she's going to act that role and try to be reassuring. the economy looks a little soft but we think it's going to get stronger. just in case, we will be there for you, keeping rates low. the only thing that maybe the market will not like if she will probably suggest they keep on tapering these bond purchases. >> you mentioned in a different context the keystone pipeline. the decision has to be made and it is supposedly john kerry's decision at you have to think barack obama will make it. do you have any tea leaves? >> he will make the decision but then made john kerry say what it is. is it this year before the midterms for political impact?
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or does he even push it back? >> do you get any sense of what they would like to do, which way they lean? >> the latest environmental report, it is classic obama, leaving all of their options open. it really goes in both directions. the president has said he does not think this is the decision to end all. there really is a strong environmentalist streak within the party. he has some concerns about it. on balance, they have not broadcast what they are going to do. >> joe biden said in a television interview they will make a decision by summer 2015 whether he will run for president or not. fine. i don't see any reason why he should not. should be take this seriously? >> he's run twice and been unsuccessful. on the other hand, why would he rule out options?
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in the interview, he was asked about the factors. he said if he did not think anyone else could reach out and do it then he might jump in. at this point, he's not putting together the public profile you would expect to see, major staff changes, getting out there. he is letting the president appoint him to positions he find are important. >> i was in the cattle car. when you travel with the vice president, it slows things up a lot. [laughter] the french president francois hollande is arriving. barack obama does not like these state dinners. >> reagan had 30. barack obama has had 6. first of all, they are complex social engagements and he gets
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tired at the end of the night. also, it is trouble from the salahis, the chinese, and another level of complication. they want this to be about syria, iran, trade negotiations with europe. this is this sort of distraction that obama does not like. he likes his tight group of friends. this is uncomfortable for him. >> anyway, thank you very much. coming up, we preview the state dinner and bloomberg view columnists debate immigration. ♪
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>> welcome back. we will get to margaret carlson and ramesh ponnuru in a moment, but first, talking about the visit of french president francois hollande coming to the united states, sans companion, after the scandal with his actress girlfriend.
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>> he's not married. he had given a semi-official status to the previous girlfriend and it's pretty clear there will not be another first lady, first girlfriend, whatever. he's coming alone and he's managed to put this back into being a private matter. >> on the middle east and africa, they are hardliners. when he sits down with obama, will they see eye to eye? >> there are a few irritants such as the french trade mission and the americans were not too happy about them going to iran. they do take quite the same line on syria, africa, iran. the french are willing to put a
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little bit of force behind it and the americans quite appreciate the way they have stepped in with the militants there. on the whole, it's a relationship that works quite well. >> when they turn to the global economy, there are complaints of our slow recovery but the french economy, by most accounts, is really sluggish. >> there has been a stagnation. they feel they get a bad rap in the british and american press. france has lagged other countries, but let's not get too dramatic about it. 2013 was not a great year anywhere. the german economy grew only about 0.4% and france grew about 0.1%. yes, there was a lack that it is not as dramatic as it's often made out. >> when he arrives in washington, what kind of political shape is francois hollande back end back home?
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>> his popularity is extremely low, somewhere in the 20% range. it is the lowest any president has ever had in france. there are some elections coming up for local and european elections where his party is expected to take quite a bit of a beating. he will still have a majority in the national parliament. he is not in great shape and a lot of it just has to do with the unemployment rate. he came in promising to create jobs and they just have not been created. >> at the same time, the french-u.s. relations are probably better than they've been in a long time. >> they are and hollande has been extremely active toeing the line on issues like a round, syria -- iran, syria. this relationship is as good as it's ever been.
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>> greg, thank you. now we turn to margaret and ramesh. the cbo report on the affordable health care act, good or bad news for obama? >> one thing the cbo found is that the way obamacare a structured makes it less and less rewording for people to work. the more you work, the more your subsidy gets taken away. i don't see how that can be called a good thing. >> that is your main take away? >> it's a big problem. the biggest problem for economic growth is slowing growth in the labor force. >> it came out obamacare is a job killer. there was nothing saying that. there did say there would be changes in the labor force, old people who do not want to keep working until they are 65. young mothers who may not want to go back to work so early and pay for childcare.
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those people may not be in the labor force but that is not such a bad thing. we have always wanted tom and republicans have, to delink health care from employment. all the other news in the cbo report is good. premiums are lower, the deficit is going down, the treasury will make a bundle of money. we did not hear about any because the partisan view is everything about obamacare is bad. >> that's the narrative. boehner blaming the fact that you could not trust obama on the issue of immigration, who's at fault? >> the republican retreat they discussed it and it did not look that bad. they came out with some principles on immigration but this shows two things. mcconnell is in charge of john boehner. he came out and cut him off
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saying there would not be immigration. he hired a great immigration activist and said he was going to do it and now he proves he does not have control of the caucus yet again. >> is that your read? >> there is broad agreement that this is not the time to split themselves and to alienate some republican voters by doing an immigration bill, even those who wanted tom a they don't think this is the time to do it. >> there is a cost of we keep delaying. >> 2016 really will not help them. it will help in the short term for 2014. >> any deal we get will be better because we will have more senate republicans to go up against president obama. >> thank you both for being here and thank you. we will see you next week. >> "political capital" is a production of bloomberg television. ♪
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